Thursday, November 17, 2011

A One Room School House

I love teaching. I schooled our children for twenty years. I love watching the light bulb come on when a child gets a concept. I could not wait to visit the one room school house in the community. The children go to school from first grade through 8th. There is no kindergarten so they usually wait till the child is six years old.

The first family we stayed with had two boys ages ten and twelve. I was scheduled to go with them to school on Tuesday morning. So on Monday night the oldest boy sat down with me after dinner and explained what school was like and what the rules were. The school room is very quiet so they have different hand signals the students use to communicate with the teacher. I thought I had all the hand signals down and was ready to go bright and early the next morning.

The next morning at 7 a.m. I walked to school with both boys and what an adventure it was. Since my host family lives the furthest away we walked at a fast clip. Now I am an old lady and it was a major feat to keep up with these young whippersnappers. The path was very steep at times, muddy and rocky and oh yes, horse deposits to maneuver which apparently I was not very proficient at!

Half way down the hill we walked through one of the other families property and found ourselves adding to our numbers. Four little girls had just come out of the house and they walked in front of us singing together. We were about 3/4 of the way to the school when three other boys joined our ranks. By this time we are on flat and may I say blessed flat ground when I hear in the distance more children. These little guys had bikes and they whirled past us. Apparently it is a game to see just who can get to the schoolhouse first. Now I have to say by the time we arrived 25 minutes later I had just experienced a great aerobic workout and it was free!

After climbing the steep stairs to introduce myself to the teacher, who was expecting me, we promptly went back down the stairs and out into the field next to the school. All the children gathered and started a game that resembled baseball without the bat and ball. The children love this game they play. The teacher joined in and I have to say I was impressed with just how fast this 30 something gal could run especially in a long dress!

It only lasted about 10 minutes and then it was time to line up for school. I hung back so I was the last one into the schoolroom. When I entered they were all in a line that snaked around the old fashioned desks. In the back of the room there was a sink and above the sink there were stainless steel mugs on a large board with hooks. As the line snaked around the room the children would grab a mug and quickly fill it with water from the sink. All was quiet and done with great precision. While you stood in the line snaking around the room for a second time you drank your water. By the time you got to the sink the second time you hung up your mug where you found it. Since I was in the back of the line I was the last to grab a mug. My first reaction was eewww I am going to be drinking out of a mug that has been used multiple times by children and not been washed. I quickly got over the ick factor and was happy with a very cold mug of water!

I sat in the back on an old wooden bench and observed. The teachers desk was up front on the right side of the room. Her assistant sat behind a desk all the way over on the left side of the room. This school year they are singing through their hymn books starting at the front of the hymnal. They sing two hymns and have a prayer before class starts. I have to tell you they sing with amazing gusto. I am certain the singing could be heard some distance away. Then the teacher called by name one family at a time to stand and introduce themselves to me. Some families had 4 or 5 children in the class and some had only one or two. It obviously was a treat to have a visitor so it was so cute to watch them address me.

There were 34 children in the classroom. The rows of desks went by grade. First grade was on the far left and each row went into a higher grade till you reached the far right and they were 8th graders. Behind the first graders there sat the heat for the room, a huge wood stove. In the back of the room all the way to the right sat a picnic table of sorts and a large blackboard. The teacher would call one grade at a time back to the table and teach a subject while all the other students worked on the same subject in their workbooks. You could hear a pin drop in the room. Since I had been quizzed the night before on the hand signals I knew what each child needed.

When a student finished an assignment in their workbooks they held it up high in their left hands and waited patiently till the teacher acknowledged them and gave the go ahead to walk to her desk and lay the finished workbook on her desk. If you raised your hand without a workbook in it that means you have to go to the bathroom. Now remember the outhouses, the ones for the school are down the steps, out of the room and over across the road and are marked one for boys and one for girls. If you have to go to the bathroom before the time allotted to go then you had to stay in 4 minutes after recess starts. It apparently was a great incentive since only two children raised their hands to go before the time set aside. If you raised your right hand with two fingers showing then that meant you had a question.

After 1 1/2 hours of this the teacher called one boy and one girl by name at a time and they hurried out of the room and went to the outhouse. I finally figured out what she was doing and realized the entire recess period would be wasted if you had to wait in line for the bathroom. This was all done in silence with great precision also. By the time recess came around all the children had gone to the bathroom so they could play once out on the field.

Recess was another game they all played together that for the life of my I could not quite figure out. I have to stay they all play well together. There is no tattling, no complaining and no fighting. They all just had alot of fun together.

They go from 7:30 in the morning to 12:30. They are taught reading, writing, arithematic, science and geography. There are no classes on gay pride etc. just basic teaching. The teacher obviously ran a tight ship but she did it with joy and kindness on her face. What a blessing to see.

If you have any questions feel free to comment.
Tomorrow I am going to share with you what their worship looks like.
In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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